the best-laid schemes

After all those veils, I took on a dyeing commission for a local dance troupe, Ashar Dance Company. They wanted some fairly specific yardage for a fusion piece they plan to present in April. I don’t want to say too much about it as I don’t want to give away their surprise, but let me just say this: producing this yardage was one of the hardest projects I’ve ever attempted.

I had initially estimated that this project would take me about ten hours. It took twenty-two hours. Needless to say, I didn’t charge them nearly enough! They got a great deal. But I still feel kind of bad, because some of the silk did not turn out they way they wanted.

A section of the silk I was dyeing for them was to be light golden brown, like a sandy beach, but I was specifically warned to stay away from anything too yellow. No problem, I thought, and ordered Golden Brown from Dharma Trading.

No problem? Two problems:

1. The usual problem of getting a light or pastel shade in any of the Procion MX dyes. Even starting with a rule of thumb of a very low concentration of dye, I couldn’t get a good light shade of this color. The lighter I went the harder it was to get an even tone, and this even with fairly religious stirring.

2. Golden Brown tends to the orange side on silk. Sample after sample came out closer to Florida oranges than to Florida beaches. I tried to correct it by adding different blues to the mix, but adding blue also made the brown darker!

My virtual dye friends over at Paula Burch’s dye forum were very helpful and supportive, but in the end I actually had to admit defeat. I was out of time and the silk had to be delivered. Rather than sand I delivered caramel. I’m still a bit depressed over the whole thing. But now I know: browns are just hard.

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